Three people are dead and at least 15 are injured after a fiery crash involving a bus carrying band students in Ohio, according to police.
The deadly incident took place on Interstate 70, about 26 miles east of Columbus near the State Route 310 interchange in Licking County, where a semitruck is understood to have rear-ended the bus at around 8:50 a.m.
It is unclear if any of the deceased victims are students, and the cause of the collision was not immediately known. There were 57 people traveling on the bus, an official said.
The semitruck appeared to catch fire, according to photos posted online, and heavy smoke could be seen billowing up into the air.
Five vehicles in total were involved in the collision, police said.
The bus was carrying students and chaperons from Tuscarawas Valley High School, located in northeast Ohio. They were headed to an Ohio School Boards Association conference in Columbus, Derek Varansky of the Tuscarawas Valley School District, wrote on Facebook.
“I have devastating and heartbreaking news to report,” Varansky wrote before adding that there were multiple serious injuries. The injured were being treated at seven area hospitals.
“Right now, our focus is on getting in touch with our Tusky Valley families who had loved ones on the bus and providing support to our entire school community. Our Trojan family is strong, and it will take that strength and love to get [through] these coming challenging days.”
Police said the bus involved in the crash was operated by Pioneer Trails, a family-owned bus business based in Millersburg in Holmes County.
The American Red Cross of Central and Southern Ohio said it fulfilled a request for more blood from one hospital in the area, sending 30 units to a hospital in the Mount Carmel Health System, Marita Salkowski, regional communications director said.
A center was set up at a United Methodist Church in Etna for bus passengers not in need of medical attention to go to and contact loved ones, she added.
Numerous emergency responders were at the scene, and Ohio Department of Transportation cameras from the area showed smoke coming from the crash site.
The highway was closed in both directions and numerous traffic delays were reported.
Police said the location will remain closed and be an “active scene” while investigators analyze the area.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.